Home > Travel > Tom’s Latin American Vacation (Part 2): Ura… no Rio – or ‘A run-in in a deserted town’

Tom’s Latin American Vacation (Part 2): Ura… no Rio – or ‘A run-in in a deserted town’

038_38Forgive me if the details are a little sketchy – whether I went from Buenos Aires to Iguacu Falls first, or Rio or Uraguay, is all a bit confused. Ahhh, yes, I remember now – I spent Christmas in Rio, it felt like the thing to do; but then we (that being me and everyone else staying in the two main hostels in town) didn’t bargain on the fact that everywhere closes on Christmas Eve in Rio, apart from the restaurants which seemed to have been booked up since October (no doubt). A walk in Rio on Christmas Eve is a walk in a ghost town with the odd shady figure (not unlike myself) aimlessly looking for something to do and then, after five or six streets of darkness and solitude, being drawn to the next restaurant with bouncers on the door and smiling faces inside. I stood and scratched my nails down the food establishment’s window pane in a grand display of my anguish at being left alone on such a festive occasion.

After a Christmas Day breakfast (which was only made bearable through the memory of having met a lovely girl on the same veranda only a couple of days previously) we spent the day waiting for the evening festivities. I took a walk along the beach, in place of lunch, and returned to the hostel to find a group of South African guys acting a little ungraciously. They were happy in themselves, being overly loud and slightly drunk in a ‘football hooligan’ type way (as in the way which makes you wonder if something violent might happen shortly). It was fake, of course, at least it seemed fake – but there was no telling whether they would040_40 control themselves or not (simply boyish bravado, headmaster). A discussion between them and another group of travellers (from the U.S.) started and, eventually, the American girls voiced their unhappiness with the way the (white) South African boys were acting (notably their unpleasant references to blacks). This erupted into an argument simply due to the ‘unpleasant feeling in the room’ to start with, but after more specific references to blacks and the boy’s  feelings about them, the American girls attempted to make them aware that an Asian girl (who I was chatting to) was in the room and that, perhaps, they should ‘tone it down’. The boys then got annoyed with the girls as they claimed that their racism was towards blacks not Asians and so there was nothing to worry about. Madness. ‘Bless’, was the only thing I could think to say quietly to myself. 063_63After about five solid minutes of argument, during which the Asian girl was referenced directly, I eventually broke rank in a ridiculous display of honesty and explained how everyone felt (including the idiot that had resorted to racism in an appalling attempt to illustrate his disgruntlement about something he couldn’t quite put his finger on) and told the youngsters from S.A. that they had a simple choice, sit and enjoy the atmosphere that had been created or go for a walk on the beach – which they did; I faulted the American girls ever so slightly for putting weight behind the S.A’s discussion by even bothering to confront them.  They protested that they had been ‘told off’ whilst the boys had got off scot free (instantaneously a teacher – suddenly aware of my seniority – yes, I was old), the situation was absurd, so I explained to them I was going to lie to them (and as a consequence they could infer the truth): I credited them with enough intelligence to be able to learn from the experience, the same may not be true of the boys. They went away somewhat happy for the compliment and somewhat confused. My view: if they’re intelligent then they’ll learn in a positive way, if not they won’t – there’s little I can do, they’re not my students.

The evening was far better, a little champagne followed by far too many gin and tonics (it was the heat, dear, I had to). There was a BBQ at the ‘sister hostel’ where a large group of lonely travellers had gathered to try to enjoy Christmas, as best they could, in a strange town. Plenty of discussions about where we had been and where we were going was followed by an eventual (slightly tipsy) retirement to a darkened room to watch: ‘Love Actually’ (my favourite word preceded by a universally ‘liked’ one – in Facebook parlance). Such was the exhaustion of the day that everyone had started to cry by about half way through – finally at the credits (and despite the odd tear, myself) I burst into mock sobs – which seemed to wake us all up. It was time to go home.

Christmas in Rio, hmmm – this year I’ll stay home…  🙂








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